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Rita & Plovdiv Hotels

Hi Everyone from BC..............My wife and I (seniors), Have 4 nights booked in Sofia, end of April, we collect our car rental, and head to Rila..........would like recommendations for accommodation in Rila, we plan 2 nights...........moving on to Plovdiv, probably 3 nights.....We will have 7 nights remaining, any suggestions would be welcome...

PS...We toured Romania 3 years ago with a car rental and was great!!
Look forward to your input.................John & Rosalind....18th Nov...2017

Posted by
16606 posts

Bulgaria, like Romania, is a fascinating place.

I stayed at the Hotel Ego in Plovdiv in 2015. I'd have preferred a place a bit closer to the historic core, but it was walkable for me. I don't remember the details, but the hotel was fine and relatively modern. I see that it gets a rating of 8.8 on booking.com these days.

I have no idea what your precise travel dates are, but I used the nights of April 26 and 27 to bring up the hotel list on booking.com, and I saw a lot of places with the "Last Available Room" warning. Even though we all know the hotels themselves may still hold inventory, I'm a bit surprised to see this for late April in Plovdiv. Just thought I'd warn you.

I liked Veliko Tarnovo a lot also. (Be prepared for spelling variations; in Bulgarian it's Trnovo, and people sort of choose their favorite vowel.) It was once the capital. There's historic architecture and a fortress. The tourist office has an audio guide you can rent. Like Plovdiv, V.T. does get its share of tourists. Both cities offer great shopping opportunities for folks who like crafts. Warning: I was pickpocketed in the shopping district of V.T. by two guys who blended into the background (not Roma, as I emphasized to the police).

In V.T. I stayed at the Meridian Hotel Bolyarski (though I think it has acquired the "Meridian" recently). It's also a relatively modern hotel, but it's built on the edge of the ravine with some of the floors below street level. My room didn't have much of a view (maybe none), which wasn't a big deal to me, but the Wi-Fi didn't work down on my floor, and there was a floor below mine that had no elevator service. Again, I'm seeing a lot of "Last Available Room" flags on booking.com. It's probably one of the nicest places in town. There was a small Asian tour group using it while I was there.

My notes indicate that the Bolyarski room included breakfast, but I have no memory of it whatsoever; I probably slept through it.

I also stayed in Burgas for a couple of nights so I could see Sozopol and Nesebar (aka Nesebr), two historic ports (now beachy tourist spots) on the Black Sea. Both towns have some very picturesque small churches, not all of them restored as of 2015. In Burgas I stayed in an apartment that was cheap but inconveniently located vis-a-vis transportation. Burgas itself wasn't terribly exciting, but it was interesting to be in a place that felt so off-the-tourist-grid.

For example, the casual restaurant near my apartment where I had dinner reeked of cigarette smoke to an unpleasant degree, though no one seemed to be smoking inside. I think the odor had gotten into the varnish on the wood furniture. You wouldn't find that in Plovdiv or Veliko Tarnovo.

It won't surprise you to know that there are more smokers in Bulgaria than in points to the west, and I suspect that your odds of finding a true non-smoking hotel room are better at the top of the economic ladder. Wasn't it Rick who said something to the effect that in Bulgaria you can find a non-smoking room, but the label doesn't mean no one has smoked in it; it means you are free not to smoke in it if you so choose? Both my hotels and the apartment were fine in that regard.

Can't help with Rila; unfortunately, I didn't have time to try to get there via public transportation.

As in Romania, you'll generally find young people who can converse in English.

Posted by
187 posts

I went on the Rick Steve’s tour of Bulgaria last May. It was 12 days and had an excellent itinerary. You might want to look at the itinerary on the tour’s web page for some ideas. The only thing I would change would be to add another night in Varna (we only stayed one night). Everyone on the tour agreed that Veliko Tarnovo was fabulous.

We actually stayed IN the monastery at Rila for one night. It was an experience - very basic rooms, no heat - but so quiet and peaceful once the rest of the tourists left. There was a nice restaurant right outside one of the monastery’s gates. One night was enough, however. I was ready for some creature comforts the next night!

Posted by
2 posts

Hi John,

Based on personal experience upon traveling to Bulgaria with my husband who is Bulgarian, Rila and Plovdiv are great choices.
Been to Rila great natural outdoor area. Have not been to Plovdiv but are hoping to get there next year.
Other great places to see in Bulgaria where I have been are Sofia the capital-Alexander Nevski Cathedral, Boyana church(UNESCO
site), Mt. Vitosha; Nesebar on the Black Sea; Melnik; and Borovets. Last but not least, Veliko Turnivo (Havent been yet).
All are great spots but some would require a car .
Have a great trip.
Lisa